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Ceredigion builders awarded for quality construction

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BUILDERS and developers in Ceredigion were recently recognised for their commitment to quality construction within the county.

The nominations were made by Ceredigion County Council’s Building Control Service. The Building Control Service is responsible for the supervision of over £50 million annually of building work throughout Ceredigion. Nominations, collected throughout the year, went through a judging process where the winners of a variety of projects were agreed.

To gain recognition, each project had to demonstrate high-quality workmanship, close liaison with the developer and the Building Control Surveyor in relation to the site inspection process, and compliance with the Building Regulations, together with overall customer satisfaction.

Ceredigions’ winners were:

  • Carreg Construction Ltd for ‘Best Extension or Alteration to an Existing Home’ at Alma Grange, Llangoedmor.
  • Griffiths Joinery, Gwel Ystwyth, Rhydyfelin for ‘Best Local Builder or Traditional Craftsman’.
  • Emyr Davies for ‘Best Change of Use or Conversion’ at Edleston House, Queens Road, Aberystwyth.
  • Lee Jenkins for the construction of ‘Best Individual New Home’ at Koti, Cliff Road, Borth.
  • Andrew Scott Ltd for ’Best Educational Building’ at Ysgol Dyffryn Cledlyn.

Winners from Ceredigion went forward to the South Wales, Local Authority Building Control ‘Building Excellence Awards’ which was held at the Vale Resort in Hensol on 27 April. The evening was hosted by television and radio personality Mr Roy Noble OBE. The event was attended by over 450 construction professionals from throughout South Wales.

Griffiths Joinery were awarded outright winners in the ‘Best Local Builder or Traditional Craftsman’ category, while Emyr Davies was awarded outright winner in the ‘Best Change of Use or Conversion’ category for Edleston House.

Alan Davies, Development Manager at Ceredigion County Council said, “The Building Regulations now play a bigger part in people’s lives than ever before, with energy conservation and sustainability topping the list. The builders and developers nominated this year are commended for their commitment to quality construction throughout the county.

Ensuring that buildings are constructed in accordance with statutory requirements, together with various testing regimes that have to be carried out on completed buildings, requires a very high degree of quality workmanship. This ensures that buildings meet our commitment to sustainability and the reduction of carbon emissions”.

The Cabinet Member responsible for Economy and Regeneration, Councillor Rhodri Evans said, “Development of any size has a major impact on the day-to-day lives of those undertaking building projects. Ultimately, it is the builder who has the major responsibility in satisfying customer needs and statutory bodies. The ‘Building Excellence Awards’ will help assist the builder and developer to meet these needs, as well as giving them just reward and recognition for consistently carrying out work of a high standard.

The Council has great pleasure in recognising builders and developers who are determined to provide a high quality customer-orientated service, and their success is a testament to the professionalism and expertise available in Ceredigion. It is essential that quality builders and developers are publicly praised and recognised, and the ‘Building Excellence Awards’ prove that there are many instances where high quality construction projects have been undertaken within Ceredigion. Every year, the nominations are of exceptional quality and the judges have a very difficult time trying to choose the overall winners.

The winner will now go forward to the all Wales finals in Cardiff. Winners from this event will be nominated for the National “Building Excellence” Awards for the whole of England and Wales.

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Elin Jones backs calls for business rates holiday extension for independent businesses

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CEREDIGION’S Member of the Senedd, Elin Jones, has backed calls by the British Independent Retail Association for the extension of the current rates holiday for non-essential businesses in 2021/22.

Many local independent businesses have been closed for the best part of a year, and many will be in a more precarious situation now than when the initial rates holiday was announced last year. Many businesses will be looking forward to the easing of restrictions over the next few months, but Elin Jones warned that many would benefit from the continued business rates holiday.

Elin Jones said:

“Every effort must be made to secure the future of independent businesses in Ceredigion. They are such an important feature of life in Ceredigion, both as employers, and as a draw for people to our towns and villages.

“Normal trading will eventually resume, and these businesses will be able to flourish again, but local businesses owners know that this cannot be rushed. Therefore we must continue to sustain our businesses until they are once again back on an even keel.

“It will take a while for footfall to resume, and extending the business rates holiday is one way to help in this time of need.”

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MP makes Budget case for support for self-employed and small businesses in Ceredigion

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BEN LAKE MP has called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to extend the government’s financial support package for businesses and self-employed workers in next week’s Budget as many struggle to stay afloat during continued lockdown restrictions. 

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak is to set out the UK Government’s budget on Wednesday 3 March, almost a year since the last Budget on 11 March 2020. 

To help businesses and our local high streets over coming months, the Ceredigion MP has called on the Chancellor to extend the lowered rate of VAT at 5% for hospitality and tourism for a year to March 2022 and to extend the business rates relief package. 

Mr Lake also called on the Chancellor to retain the furlough scheme for the duration of pandemic restrictions, as recent figures show more than 178,000* in Wales are still receiving government help from the CJRS. He also urged the Chancellor to expand the existing eligibility criteria for the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme in order to offer some help to the many individuals who have not received a penny in Government support thus far. 

Ben Lake MP said: “For many businesses and self-employed workers, the financial support government has offered over the last 12 months has been a lifeline. Now, as we are finally starting to see light at the end of the lockdown tunnel, we cannot remove this lifeline prematurely. Extending this help for a little longer, and expanding the criteria to help those that have been excluded thus far, would offer small businesses the support they require to ‘bounce back’ from the pandemic.” 

Many businesses who are still not open due to lockdown measures are also now expected to start repaying their Bounce Back Loans. This is despite their situation largely remaining unchanged since they took out the loan, or in some unfortunate instances, worsened as they have not yet been able to trade.  

UKHospitality has estimated that the hospitality sector lost around £72 billion in sales in 2020 and faces, frankly, a debt mountain, including £4.2 billion in state-backed loans.  

Mr Lake said:  “It is important that businesses that took out bounce back loans and CBILS are required to pay only when they are in a position to do so – once they have ‘bounced back’ from the pandemic. Affording such a level of flexibility, and thus preventing avoidable business failures, would protect jobs, the taxpayer’s investment in the recovery, and the integrity of our financial system.

“We remain in the early stages of a vaccine-led recovery, and it is likely that we will have some form of restrictions for many months to come. Having done so much to protect the economy and the workforce, we must not withdraw support prematurely, as to do so would risk throwing away the investment taxpayers have made in the last year, and potentially our economic recovery.” 

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Covid-19 vaccination venues and timeline announced for everyone locally over 50

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EVERY person in JCVI priority groups 5 to 9 will be offered a COVID-19 vaccination by 18 April, Hywel Dda University Health Board has confirmed.

While the health board’s vaccination programme has the capacity to offer a vaccine to everyone in groups 5 to 9 by the original target date of 4 April, the delivery plan has had to be adjusted based on confirmed vaccine deliveries.

Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire residents in priority groups 5 to 9 can expect to receive their vaccine as follows:

  • Group 5, people aged 65 – 69 years – delivered by GP practices between 15 February and 12 March
  • Group 6, people aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions and unpaid carers – delivered by GP practices between 22 February and 4 April
  • Group 7, people aged 60 – 64 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 8 March
  • Group 8, people aged 55 – 59 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 22 March
  • Group 9, people aged 50 – 54 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 5 April

The health board currently has mass vaccination centres located in Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Haverfordwest, Tenby, Carmarthen and Llanelli.

Group 6 is significantly the largest cohort to be vaccinated to date and we understand that many in this group will be anxious to receive a vaccine. Please do not contact your GP or the health board to ask about your appointment, you will be contacted directly when it is your turn and we thank you for your patience.

People in groups 7, 8 and 9 will receive a letter with an appointment date and time. Please arrive as close to your appointment time as possible. The letter will include a phone number to contact the health board should you need to rearrange or cancel your appointment but please make every effort to keep your allocated appointment time.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “While  our programme has had to slow  due to supplies, we want to reassure everyone in groups 5 to 9 that our amazing teams of vaccinators and GP practices have the capability and flexibility to deliver our vaccine supplies as they arrive into the region.

“Vaccine supplies will start to increase again from mid-March, and we are confident that everyone living in our three counties in the top 9 priority groups will be offered a vaccine by mid-April.

“In Hywel Dda we have an older population compared to some other health boards and so over 50% of our adult population will have been offered a vaccine by milestone 2.

“To be able to say that as we approach the anniversary of the first national lockdown is nothing short of extraordinary.

“And again, I must say thank you to everyone living in our three counties who continue to come forward in substantial numbers for the vaccine. Uptake remains remarkably high and we hope to see this continue through groups 5 to 9 and into group 10.”

People are asked, wherever possible, to use their own private transport to attend an appointment. Lifts can be accepted from someone in their household or support bubble, but not from anyone else due to the risk of transmission of the virus.

The health board has put in place transport support for anyone who may have difficulty attending their vaccination appointment. If you have no other means of travel, please contact the health board on 0300 303 8322 and we will be happy to assist.

Everyone in priority groups 1 to 4 should have received an offer of a vaccination. If you have not been contacted, or have changed your mind, please contact your GP at the earliest opportunity. No one will be left behind.

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